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Traditions behind the jewellery that you wear
Have you ever wondered why people traditionally wear their wedding rings on the third finger of the left hand? As with most traditions that we perform today there is an old, probably defunct, myth behind it. There are stories and ancient beliefs behind most of the jewellery worn, and where on your body you wear it for that matter. From pirates wearing earrings, to pagan rituals to repel demons, there is a myth behind most modern pieces of jewellery. But now we wear it for fun, for fashion, to show our love or to rage against authority!
Wedding rings are famously worn on the left hand third finger, but why? The story behind this tradition can be traced back to ancient Greece, where they believed that the vein in the third finger ran directly to the heart. Because of this belief, they called that vein the “vena amoris” or vein of love. And so the tradition took hold, as they placed an unbroken band, which signifies eternal love, on the finger that housed the vein of love, to signify the romance the newly married couple shares. From there this tradition was passed down from generation to generation within western cultures, without much question at all.
A nose piercing when worn in the west in this century is a fashion statement, however in ancient Indian cultures, the wearing of nose piercings and nose rings is part of a wedding ritual. Indian cultures have been wearing nose piercings since ancient times. In fact, 6,000 year old Vedic Scripts and manuscripts mention nose piercing and nose rings. At that time, it was believed that the nose had a connection to fertility and piercing the nose would not only ease childbirth but also increase attractiveness of the bride to her husband. In other parts of the world, South Africa in particular, nose jewels are worn by the Berber and Beja to display their wealth. They believe that the larger the jewel, the wealthier the family.
The Ancient Egyptians, both male and female, pierced their earlobes to release their spiritual energy, and give them better access to the gods that they worshiped. Whereas in Pagan Europe it was believed that piercing the ears would prevent demons from entering the body because they believed that demons and evil spirits could be repelled by metal. However, pirates and sailors in Europe in 16th to 19th wore earrings for two distinct purposes, to improve their eyesight and if their ship sank and their body was washed ashore the earring could be removed to pay for a Christian burial.
Wearing toe rings is a Hindu tradition, to indicate the married status of women. Toe rings were mentioned in the Ramayana as well. When Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, she threw her toe ring along the way as identification for Rama. It is also believed to be an early understanding of acupuncture as the pressure points on the toes promote better blood circulation – the wearing of toe rings was not gender specific in India in ancient times either – but has become more female orientated today.
Some cultures are following these ancient traditions still, others, like in the west, wear jewellery on different parts of the body for tradition and fashion. Whatever the reason you wear jewellery, each piece is a celebration of who you are and a reflection of you and your personality. And as we all like to express our individuality, wearing jewellery is so much more than a want, it’s a must!